By Ryan Cornell
WINCHESTER -- A friendship that formed at work between three avid photographers serves as the basis for their new business, CIMple Studio LLC.
Mike Sweeney, Cynthia Fenton and Ian Zuckerman met while working at Wimberley Inc., a photography accessories manufacturer formerly based in Winchester. When the company moved its location to Charlottesville earlier this year, Sweeney and Fenton were laid off as a result. Zuckerman had left in Dec. 2011. So, the three decided to open up their own studio.
For the past five years, they had been renting space in a Kernstown studio run by photographer Shelley Miller. The trio "clicked" with Miller after connecting with her in a meetup.com group geared toward local photographers called "Shooting in the Valley."
Sweeney, Fenton and Zuckerman started permanently sharing the studio in October and hosted their grand opening to the public earlier this month.
Fenton said she's been interested in photography her whole life and has done it semi-professionally for the past 10 years, including working as a photojournalist and editor for the now-defunct Pitch Magazine in Leesburg.
Zuckerman said he started delving into photography at about 15 years old when he began learning about photo editing tools such as Photoshop. He said Sweeney "started out in the film days" and has experience as a graphic designer.
"We all learn off of each other," Zuckerman said.
The three photographers can shoot weddings, special events and 30-, 60- or 90-minute portrait sessions both in the studio and on-location.
"We don't limit ourselves to any one style of photography because we have a varied background between the three of us," Fenton said.
A lifelong Winchester resident, Zuckerman said the northern Shenandoah Valley offers many photogenic backdrops for outdoor pictures.
"I love the area, there's so much to offer," he said. "So many different things to focus on with the historic parts and the town itself with the recent renovations."
Fenton described their approach as fresh, artistic and modern.
"We've been working with young couples recently," she said. "They tend to like a candid, less formal, style.
"We like people to be casual and comfortable. We don't want them to feel rushed."
Rather than force people to buy packages like other studios, she said CIMple Studio offers more flexibility.
"We do a session fee with a pre-consultation to discuss what they're interested in and schedule an appointment for the session," she said. "They sign a service contract and make a down payment."
Where: 3343 Valley Pike, Suite 700, Winchester
When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday; other hours available by appointment
Cost: Rates start at $60 for 30-minute studio sessions
Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org